- Political thought and political culture in medieval and early modern Europe (c.1350-1650)
- Everyday life and material culture in pre-industrial Britain and Europe
- European nobility and gentry
Political thought and political culture in early modern Central Europe in comparative perspective
One of the principal tenets of modern historiography is the existence of a deep social and economic divide between the eastern and western parts of Europe, with a consequent polarity and incongruity in the sphere of political theory and political culture. It has been argued that, starting in the late Middle Ages, the region commonly referred to as east-central Europe (and Poland-Lithuania in particular) followed its own path of development, that its contribution to European culture was relatively modest, and that at its core it remained relatively unaffected by the civilizational achievements of the West.
In my research I test the validity of these assertions by comparatively examining political thought and political culture in polities representing both the east and the west of Europe. I look at key concepts and ideas present in late medieval and sixteenth-century political, constitutional and legal discourses, and study their origins and evolution, how they related to the existing socio-economic structures, and how they were used by thinkers and politicians to understand and explain politics and social relations, to provide justification for political action or social policy, or to gain insight into the future of societies and states. I focus in particular on the idea of common good, the notion of popular sovereignty, the principle of rule of law, the right to resist the monarch and the concept of civic duty - often seen as an epitome or pinnacle of the late Renaissance ruling classes’ social and political ideology and as a pivotal element of their world-view.
Everyday life in Tudor and Stuart Britain
Everyday life in Tudor and Stuart Britain is yet another seriously underresearched if not neglected topic. Despite its vigorous claims to the contrary modern historiography pays relatively little attention to the lives of ordinary men and women other than in the context of big economic or religious changes, dramatic social or political developments, or meta-problems such as gender, race and sexual orientation.
My research, stemming from and inspired by the Everyday Life and Fatal Hazard in Sixteenth-Century England project, focuses on the experiences, actions and habits of the common man in the late-medieval and early modern Britain. I am interested in particular in interactions between members of village and small town communities across England and Wales, and how, why and with what consequences these interactions would occasionally lead to conflict and dispute, and then degenerate into violence and criminal behaviour. My main source is the records of the Court of King's Bench, one of the two principal common law courts along with the Common Pleas. King's Bench material contains a wealth of information about daily grind of rank and file royal subjects in Tudor and Stuart Britain and yet it is rarely used by historians of everyday life.
Everyday Life and Fatal Hazard in Sixteenth-Century England project website:
Living Standards and Material Culture in English Households, 1300-1600 project website: